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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Unread 01-19-2014, 06:42 PM   #16
sdbbq1234
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For low cost extra cooking space, consider a UDS, or even 2, to offset the lack of space you have now. I believe there are very good teams that use UDS.

If you don't want to build one, Big Poppa: https://www.bigpoppasmokers.com/stor...rum-smoker-kit

Win, lose or draw, it is addicting.

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Unread 01-19-2014, 06:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Untraceable View Post
If you have to ask that question, your ready for pro. When I think amateur, I think of the guy or kid with a COS or weber grill that thinks they are pretty dang good cooks. And there is nothing to say they are not. But if you roll into a backyard comp with a 4k dollar pit and a trailer with networks set up for wifi, your exceeded the contests intentions.

Just my opinion. No one likes sandbaggers
Just to be clear, I walked into backyard w/ one horizontal offset. No sandbagging here. That being said, I see your point.

The last backyard I was at had a Lang 84 Deluxe competing in it. It was the adult daughter of pro, using her dad's rig. Her dad was there the whole day "helping" as well. We still beat them in brisket! And first year guys beat them in ribs, so that was satisfying...

Last edited by bassandbeer; 01-19-2014 at 07:49 PM.. Reason: added content
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Unread 01-19-2014, 06:48 PM   #18
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I think, after talking to you guys, you've answered the question I already know the answer to. It's time. I'll find extra cook space, and I can afford it. Time to play with the big boys!
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Unread 01-19-2014, 07:12 PM   #19
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As some here, we just jumped right in from the begining.
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Unread 01-19-2014, 07:32 PM   #20
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My opinion, do both until you GC your second amateur contest. Once this happens you are ready to bow out of amateur contests let the next batch of guys have a chance at winning.
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Unread 01-20-2014, 08:45 AM   #21
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Started out in the "pro" division.
I decided that when I came out to play, I wanted to go against EVERYBODY and chose the largest event in our area as my initiation. Went up against 68 teams. Finshed middle of the pack but achieved all my goals.

Get everything turned in.
No disqualifications.
Don't finish DAL.

Finished with a best 21st in chicken.
This was in 2012.
Fast forward to the same event in 2013
Finished 4th overall out of 66 teams.

Put yourself out there and see how you do!
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Unread 01-20-2014, 12:40 PM   #22
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I'm going to go against the majority on this one - if you have only done 3 backyard events in 2 years, you can certainly benefit from staying in that bracket for a while longer (assuming there are sufficient backyard contests in your area). You have barely wet your feet in competition BBQ at this point, and moving to pro now will certainly result in you spending a lot more money during the learning process than if you stay in backyard.

I might suggest that you take some of the money you would spend on entering Pro shows and buy a class or two from someone you respect that also cooks on the type of smoker you use. Then practice what you learn in backyard events for a while. When you start finishing in the top 5 every time and the other cooks push you to move up, THEN you'll be ready to shift to the Pro events.

Of course if you have unlimited funds and don't care how you finish, then go ahead and slog away for a while in the Pro world. Just remember you are doing it for fun and you will essentially be a field-filler, donating your money to the more experienced teams each weekend. I'm not trying to be harsh, just giving you an idea of what you can expect. I have seen quite a few backyarders move up to Pro after a couple of successes only to become discouraged and quit completely when they end up in the bottom of the field every time.
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Unread 01-20-2014, 01:25 PM   #23
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Another thing you could do is to become a CBJ and judge a few comps. That will give you a really good idea what the pro teams are turning in.

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Unread 01-20-2014, 02:47 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CivilWarBBQ View Post
I'm going to go against the majority on this one - if you have only done 3 backyard events in 2 years, you can certainly benefit from staying in that bracket for a while longer (assuming there are sufficient backyard contests in your area). You have barely wet your feet in competition BBQ at this point, and moving to pro now will certainly result in you spending a lot more money during the learning process than if you stay in backyard.

I might suggest that you take some of the money you would spend on entering Pro shows and buy a class or two from someone you respect that also cooks on the type of smoker you use. Then practice what you learn in backyard events for a while. When you start finishing in the top 5 every time and the other cooks push you to move up, THEN you'll be ready to shift to the Pro events.

Of course if you have unlimited funds and don't care how you finish, then go ahead and slog away for a while in the Pro world. Just remember you are doing it for fun and you will essentially be a field-filler, donating your money to the more experienced teams each weekend. I'm not trying to be harsh, just giving you an idea of what you can expect. I have seen quite a few backyarders move up to Pro after a couple of successes only to become discouraged and quit completely when they end up in the bottom of the field every time.
Unfortunately, there are only a few backyards a year close enough to me in Michigan. I understand, and see your point, in the above. I don't have unlimited funds, but with a couple of friends, we can pool the money together to go have a fun weekend. That's all it can be, a fun weekend, with good food and new friends. I won't lie and say I wouldn't like to place, but I also understand that it's a long learning curve once I'm in.
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Unread 01-20-2014, 03:12 PM   #25
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Personally......I err on the side of caution. I think I agree most with CivilWarBBQ on this one.


When I first got interested, I found a team that was willing to just let me hang out at a comp with them to see what the heck it was all about. At this point I had ZERO exposure to comp BBQ, except what I'd seen on TV. I'd not even competed in backyard comps. How I got hooked up on that team was through the BBQ Brethren Team Mentoring Forum. You may or may not get action, but I did and it was an invaluable experience.


The following year, I ended up getting in touch with a member here who lived an hour from me and who was looking for a teammate to cook with on a new team. I ended up going to a comp, meeting him, hanging out and then ended up actually helping him out for 2 or 3 other comps that season, mainly just as a "pit beotch", but I got to see what the deal was on a more detailed level, ask questions, etc.

During that year, I entered into a backyard comp on my own, which was ribs only and won.

The hook was set.


The following year (2012) I entered into a partnership with him and I'm still there and loving it.





For me......slowly diving in was my style. I'm not necessarily afraid of taking risks, but with a family to support and being a cheap arse at heart, I wasn't about to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars not knowing what I was getting into. Not saying that there's anything wrong with doing it like that, but it just ain't me.

One thing that helped me decide was that I had a partner. After the first exposure, I'd basically decided that I didn't want to compete because I didn't want to drop all the money and then just have to scratch and claw for years and years just to figure out how NOT to suck (OK, not SUCK, but I mean not win or score high), and have to do that all on my own. Joining another guy to compete together, we were able to share expenses, ideas, flavors, methods, etc.





As far as timing, that's really up to you to decide when you're ready.
At some point, however, you WILL have to take the plunge if you're seriously planning on going pro. Sometimes just tearing off the bandaid and committing is the best, but for me......I didn't want to have it end up horrible and regret it.

I don't know how much time you have spent around the pro side of competition BBQ, but I will promise you this: other teams will help if they know you're new and are in need of some guidance, or at least some talking down when you're on the ledge. There is NO other competitive endeavor that I've found where this is more true than comp BBQ. So, whatever you decide, you'll not be completely alone. It's a big family.


Good luck!
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Unread 01-20-2014, 03:16 PM   #26
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I stick to the amateur competitions almost entirely because they are cheaper. All of the amateur comps I've been in cost less than $100 and most provide the meat to cook. They are one day affairs so all you need to get by is a UDS (or two), table and an EZ-Up. I can compete in a whole season of amateur events (5 or 6) for the cost one pro competition (including meat and supplies).

Two of the comps I participate in provide us with 10 slabs of ribs and we "sell" bones to the public. There is a judges' champion and a People's Choice champ. The local Lions Club provides the ribs and keeps all of the cash. There is nothing better than getting instantaneous “attaboys.”

Although there are hacks out there, competition at the top is tough at these events. Organizers also strive to get KCBS certified judges.

I think that amateur events are also less stressful and more fun. Even though it is a one day event, there seems to be more time to get to know your neighbors.

Don't get me wrong. I'd love to go pro. Someday, I hope one of my four kids gets rich and bankrolls Dad’s BBQ dream. Until then, consider me an amateur.
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Unread 01-20-2014, 03:27 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CivilWarBBQ View Post
I'm going to go against the majority on this one - if you have only done 3 backyard events in 2 years, you can certainly benefit from staying in that bracket for a while longer (assuming there are sufficient backyard contests in your area). You have barely wet your feet in competition BBQ at this point, and moving to pro now will certainly result in you spending a lot more money during the learning process than if you stay in backyard.

I might suggest that you take some of the money you would spend on entering Pro shows and buy a class or two from someone you respect that also cooks on the type of smoker you use. Then practice what you learn in backyard events for a while. When you start finishing in the top 5 every time and the other cooks push you to move up, THEN you'll be ready to shift to the Pro events.

Of course if you have unlimited funds and don't care how you finish, then go ahead and slog away for a while in the Pro world. Just remember you are doing it for fun and you will essentially be a field-filler, donating your money to the more experienced teams each weekend. I'm not trying to be harsh, just giving you an idea of what you can expect. I have seen quite a few backyarders move up to Pro after a couple of successes only to become discouraged and quit completely when they end up in the bottom of the field every time.

I, also, am going to disagree with the majority of the people posting on here. We competed this whole season in the backyard division all over the SE. We did 8 competitions total. When we looked at our accomplishments at the end of the season, we made the decision to go pro for this upcoming season for TWO reasons; we took a trophy in every contests we did (except 1 and that had "celebrity" judges) and we took 2 grand champions (one of which was in a field of 44 teams). (We competed in all competitions that used the KCBS rules and judging). Those are the only two reasons we're going to the pro side. If we hadn't finished so strong, we would have stayed backyard for another year to fine tune our recipes and save up some more money toward entry fees, gas, and meat.

We know this is just a "hobby", but it is an expensive hobby to be in the bottom of the ranks, so we wanted to wait till we really felt ready to compete with the people that do it 20 times a year.

Don't let others opinions push you toward pro till you're ready, and certainly don't hold back if you feel that you are. I feel that this question is really up to the individual team BUT if you're having a lot of great success in backyard competitions then it's a good consideration.
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Unread 01-20-2014, 04:18 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdbbq1234 View Post
Another thing you could do is to become a CBJ and judge a few comps. That will give you a really good idea what the pro teams are turning in.

wallace
This! Although I completely agree with the points made by Kwas and others. My kids are grown. It's just my wife and I. We compete pretty much instead of taking vacations.

We judged a couple of years, and got to know some of the folks, and then just made the jump. But having judged and knowing what the food being in tasted like, we had a better idea what the judges were looking for, although that seems to be a moving/evolving target!

I would not recommend it to anyone looking to make money at it, unless you have the time and wherewithal to dedicate at least half of the weekends in a given year to competing, because most of the best are doing it 20-30 or more weekends per year, all over the country

For us, it's all about the fun and the folks. And once every now and then, we hear our names and that makes us pretty happy too!
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Unread 01-20-2014, 04:32 PM   #29
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Wampus, Kwas & J&B, thanks for the insight. I do have a competition partner, and then there's my Dad, who loves to come along and be the gopher. The way I look at it, that's a three man team already! The guys do chip in, but I have been eating the majority of the costs. I can change that, and have already told the guys that whether we move up or not, I'm keeping track of the costs and we're splitting it evenly this year. I guess I should probably get their input on moving up as well.

I have shadowed a KCBS team for a brief time during a comp (don't know if I can mention their name or not), and then cooked beside them on another occasion (my backyard site was right next to his pro), and have learned a lot. Josh has been a huge help to me, and an honest judge of my turn ins (I think). He doesn't mince words if he doesn't like something or is not impressed, but hey, I don't with him either.

As far as backyards near us, there are maybe 3 per year, and I'm already in two of them. The third is a 3.5 hour drive from me. None of them provide the meat, but I wish they would! That would be so much cheaper! Because of the cost of the meat and cooking space, I chose not to get into the People's Choice portion of the last event I was in. That was the worst. Having people wanting to try my ribs, but not being able to give them any. That sucked. I won't make that mistake again.

Hmm. Everyone's answers are quite thought provoking. More so than I thought about when I first asked the question.
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Unread 01-20-2014, 04:38 PM   #30
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Just to be clear, when I say "go pro", I'm only referring to moving up to the "professional" KCBS sanctioned side of things. I'm not looking to make a career of it. I have 3 young boys and a wife to take care of at home. This is just another love of mine.
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